Ticketmaster needs some new UI designers, stat!

I can’t believe how shockingly bad some major companies are when it comes to user interface design.

These days there are just so many resources out there, so many knowledgeable people, and testing is so easy to do … there’s just no excuse for really horrible, hostile user interfaces.

Exhibit #1
Notice the empty text entry field. In the top screenshot, the field is empty, and there is no clue what the user needs to do with it. It’s only when the user actually clicks into the field that a context-sensitive help note appears: “Please enter your student number.”

It goes without saying: help is nice, but you shouldn’t need help to complete standard operations. More importantly: important UI information should not be hidden like clues in Myst.

Exhibit #2
Three options to get your tickets! Wow, better read them all! Which is better? Which meets my specific needs?

The user is bound to be disappointed after his or her limited time has been invested in reading through all these three options … they are exactly the same. Every one of those options is print-at-home, and pay for the privilege.

(Naturally, every ticket takes up an entire 8.5×11 page – full of color ads – and warns you to present the entire page at the venue when entering. Nice … and more than a little self-serving.)

A cardinal rule of user interfaces: only present a choice when a choice is needed and a choice is necessary. If there is no choice, don’t waste the user’s time, patience, and good will by presenting the illusion of choice.

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I’m graduating this month with a Master’s degree in Educational Technology, and just ordered tickets for my wife and kids. But you don’t have to have a master’s degree in applying technology to learning to understand that these UI decisions deserve a failing grade.